SJR 17: Requesting that the National Marine Fisheries Service and the United States Congress act immediately to reverse the decline of the Cook Inlet beluga whale population and to regulate the harvest of the beluga whales in Cook Inlet until the beluga whale population has recovered.
00SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 17 01 Requesting that the National Marine Fisheries Service and the United States 02 Congress act immediately to reverse the decline of the Cook Inlet beluga whale 03 population and to regulate the harvest of the beluga whales in Cook Inlet until 04 the beluga whale population has recovered. 05 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 06 WHEREAS the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is responsible under the 07 Marine Mammal Protection Act for management and protection of beluga whales in Alaska; 08 and 09 WHEREAS NMFS has concluded that, although the data on population trends of Cook 10 Inlet beluga whales are incomplete, the Cook Inlet beluga whale population has been declining 11 in recent years, primarily due to overharvest; and 12 WHEREAS NMFS has concluded that the Cook Inlet beluga whale population was 13 at least 650 in 1994; and 14 WHEREAS the most recent surveys place the Cook Inlet beluga whale population at
01 a minimum of 347; and 02 WHEREAS environmental groups have recently petitioned NMFS to list the Cook 03 Inlet beluga whale population as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered 04 Species Act; and 05 WHEREAS listing of this population under the Endangered Species Act would have 06 significant negative effects on the economies of Cook Inlet as well as the entire state; and 07 WHEREAS there are procedures under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that 08 provide for the regulation of the harvest of marine mammals only following a NMFS finding 09 of "depletion"; and 10 WHEREAS NMFS has apparently been reluctant to use the Marine Mammal 11 Protection Act procedure allowing for the regulation of harvests due to the fact that the 12 "depletion" review and finding process is extremely time-consuming and complicated; and 13 WHEREAS continued delays by NMFS could further contribute to the decline in the 14 Cook Inlet beluga whale population; 15 BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature respectfully requests the 16 National Marine Fisheries Service to immediately begin the process of reviewing the status 17 of Cook Inlet beluga whales for consideration for "depleted" status under the Marine Mammal 18 Protection Act; and be it 19 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature respectfully requests that 20 the United States Congress immediately consider legislation amending the Marine Mammal 21 Protection Act to allow the National Marine Fisheries Service to regulate the harvest of Cook 22 Inlet beluga whales until the population has recovered; and be it 23 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature respectfully requests that 24 the United States Congress provide the National Marine Fisheries Service with adequate 25 financial resources to secure, in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 26 the information necessary to ensure that the Cook Inlet beluga whale population is not placed 27 in jeopardy, that Alaskans dependent on the beluga whale resource are not unnecessarily 28 penalized, and that associated industries in the state are not placed at risk. 29 COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable William M. Daley, Secretary 30 of the United States Department of Commerce; and to the Honorable Ted Stevens and the 31 Honorable Frank Murkowski, U.S. Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S.
01 Representative, members of the Alaska delegation in Congress.